As predicted last week, one Super Bowl storyline that’s received an incredible amount of media attention is competing brothers Jason Kelce of the Eagles and Travis Kelce of the Chiefs. But while the Kelces may be ‘tired’ of some of the ways outside media are covering that storyline, this has been a good opportunity for them to further build their media brand.
That brand was already going strong before the 2022 NFL season, with Travis’ past dating show and Jason’s past media work and memorable media clips. But something that really elevated it was the launch of their New Heights video podcast with Wave Sports + Entertainment‘s JUKES football brand.
That podcast has released 26 episodes so far, including a discussion of this “Kelce Bowl” last Sunday and the Kelce brothers interviewing their parents this past Sunday. And it also has its own merchandise collection with apparel company HOMAGE (who we previously covered around their John Clayton tribute shirt). This week, HOMAGE CEO and founder Ryan Vesler spoke to AA via e-mail about their official apparel company partnership with the Kelces, and about how the recently-launched “Kelce Bowl” shirt (Travis Kelce is seen holding it above) has been such a hit for them. One of the most notable things Vesler said was about how the company knew they had to do something special when the brothers, already their partners, wound up in a situation where their teams would be playing on this stage.
“HOMAGE’s partnership with “New Heights” started last year when we became the official apparel partner to “New Heights with Jason & Travis Kelce,” the brothers’ top-ranked podcast,” Vesler said. “We launched an initial range of t-shirts and hoodies with the show’s logo, one-liners, zingers, and more. Jason and Travis made the announcement on their podcast and debuted the lineup, which included HOMAGE’s popular “Jam” t-shirt featuring the Kelces, a Big Yeti t-shirt that nods to Travis’ nickname, a game day fit t-shirt that pays respect to Jason’s fashion game, among other items.”
“When the Eagles and the Chiefs both made their conference championships and the “Kelce Bowl” became a real possibility, we knew we had to create a shirt to recognize the huge moment. With input from Jason and Travis, along with the podcast’s producers at Wave Sports + Entertainment and the Kelces’ managers at A&A Management, we worked with our designers to create a tee that captured fan spirit for the brothers, the pod, and the game. It is by far the most successful item in the “New Heights” lineup. Brother vs. brother is a narrative for the ages, and we brought it to a t-shirt, and fans can’t get enough.”
Here’s a clip of the brothers discussing this on New Heights:
Jason and Travis Kelce signed a deal with HOMAGE for exclusive apparel rights to their 'New Heights' podcast. That's included the new 'Kelce Bowl' shirt. Here are the brothers talking about that on the podcast, presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment. pic.twitter.com/H7t0tHDGkB
— Awful Announcing (@awfulannouncing) February 9, 2023
Vesler said that shirt fits with what HOMAGE is trying to do in general, recognizing interesting sports storylines with apparel.
“Ultimately, our mission is to pay homage to exceptional stories through legendary comfort. There are a lot of great storylines with this Super Bowl beyond the ‘Kelce Bowl,’ which was just one of many that we were able to tell in HOMAGE’s first full NFL season. Others included our NFL Blitz lineup that boasts apparel featuring dynamic players including Jalen Hurts and Patrick Mahomes. We also bring in vintage logos to pay homage to teams of the past, including, of course, the Eagles and Chiefs.”
The deal with the Kelces is a significant partnership for HOMAGE, as it’s their first-ever time serving as an exclusive apparel store for a content partner. Vesler said the combination of their Ohio base and the brothers’ Ohio roots made this a natural fit.
“HOMAGE is proudly based in Columbus, Ohio. We are deeply rooted to this city and state. Likewise, the Kelces hail from Ohio, specifically Cleveland. The name of their podcast, ‘New Heights,’ is a tribute to the Cleveland Heights neighborhood where they grew up. So HOMAGE’s partnership with ‘New Heights’ was a no brainer. As Jason Kelce said in the podcast, “We’re really happy to partner with HOMAGE, keeping the Ohio roots together.'”
But Vesler said it’s also important for the company to show they can tell stories with their products.
“With HOMAGE midway through a successful first season with the NFL license, it was a great addition to our catalog and opportunity to reach a new NFL audience. HOMAGE is a respected brand in sports apparel for comfortable tees and hoodies, a vintage aesthetic, and our ability to grasp what’s happening in sports and pop culture and translate that into incredible graphics that tell a story. That gave the Kelces, and everyone involved, confidence that HOMAGE could be trusted with the IP.”
“This partnership was the first for HOMAGE in that we are the official apparel partner of a piece of IP. Jason and Travis Kelce regularly shoutout to HOMAGE merch, which gets fans pumped for snagging their own fit. We’re bringing the “New Heights” narrative into real life in a very tangible way that fans love to embrace.
At the moment, this is the only exclusive IP deal HOMAGE has with a content partner. Vesler said they might do more deals along these lines down the road, but it would have to be a good fit, and a deal with someone who wants a bigger involvement than just a basic merchandising approach.
“As a disruptive brand in the sports apparel space, we are always looking for new opportunities to get our unique product in front of new audiences. Our ‘New Heights’ partnership was a perfect opportunity to reach a large base of passionate NFL fans, who would appreciate our full library of options. The results have been phenomenal. The passion and commitment of all involved have been extraordinary, and ultimately, it’s relationships like these that we strive for and that will continue to play a critical role in our business’ future.”
“We would be excited to find other partners who are looking to bring merchandise to their fans, who also could become our fans. A good partner would be someone who cares about authenticity, creativity, and comfort–not just adding a logo on a custom art site.”
Overall, Vesler said his company is thrilled with how this deal has worked out so far, and he’s excited about the role it will play in their further expansion of licensed NFL, MLB, and NBA content.
“We are excited that this moment has allowed us to reach (literally) ‘new heights’ within NFL fandom. For those interested in seeing more of our product, you can find our legendary tees and hoodies for all 32 teams in the NFL. We are also in most NFL, MLB, and NBA stadium team shops, where you’ll immediately notice how our unique formats, vintage designs, and hand-drawn art stand out from the rest of the assortment. We will have an even bigger presence and larger assortment in the fall as we kick off our second full season as an NFL licensee.”
More on HOMAGE can be found on their website.
[Photos and videos from Wave Sports + Entertainment]